Uppsala is fourth largest city in Sweden after Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Hence, it was obvious that we had to explore this city which was only 40 minutes away from Stockholm. Uppsala can be easily considered for a day trip with your family.
How to reach Uppsala?
It’s easy to reach Uppsala using a SL card (Stockholm Internal transport card). Buy a ticket to Uppsala on SL app or go to the nearest SL counter and buy a ticket. It gets loaded on your SL card for half the journey and the rest gets paid for through the SL card but one has to retain the receipt. One of the good option is to buy a full day ticket which covers both to and fro from Stockholm as well as the tickets of your travels within Uppsala City (UL buses) as long as everything is completed in 24 hours of buying the ticket. There are other options where in you can buy a ticket to SJ ( regional trains in Sweden) train. Best is to compare the prices for these options on the day of your travel.
Best times to visit Uppsala
Uppsala is a student city if I may so, because of the well renowned University established since 15th century. But at the same time Uppsala is known to home some of the top biotechnological companies in Sweden. Much like rest of Sweden, summer is the best time to explore the city for it’s natural beauties even though the city may feel empty as students go on summer break. Uppsala is fun to visit during their Light festival (November), Kulturnatten (September) and Carnival (May).
I had first visited Uppsala during May, which was early spring and hardly any trees were green, but during my visit in July, things looked much more brighter and beautiful. Nevertheless, many of Uppsala’s attractions can be seen even during winters.
As soon as you get down from the platforms of train station, there are two ways to go! One route goes to more residential area (that’s how I remember it) and the other one takes you towards central Uppsala with most of the attractions I have been too, the shops, cafes and the university area. You have to cross the bus stops next to the train stations and keep walking towards the river Fyris. Fyris flows through this part of the city and you will see many bridges over the Fyris river. They even have Fryrishov- sort of water park with areas for children, adventure pools for adults and experts.
First thing we visted after crossing the fyris is the Uppsala Domkyrka. I have seen my fair share of Cathedrals and Churches in Europe and Uppsala Cathedral is by far the best in Sweden and one of the best in Europe. It’s layout is beautiful and the reddish-brown bricks make it distinct even while looking at it from far away.
Uppsala Cathedral or Uppsala Domkyrkan is the tallest cathedral in Nordic region with almost the height of 119mts. It was constructed in 13th century and is a resting place for many Swedish monarchs and prominent personalities.
The exterior architecture of this cathedral is French Gothic style while the interior is what I love the most. There are many chapels inside the cathedral housing various forms of deities. It has beautiful frescos, paintings (not original but installed in 19th century as most were lost in 1702 fire), rose window, chandeliers and many more.
Beyond the main altar you will find the super realistic looking wax statue of a lady staring outside the large window of once known as Virgin Mary Chapel. Now it has been replaced by tombs of Gustav Vasa and his family. This lady is depicted as Virgin Mary and you can find more detail information about this installation on this link http://www.himlenarhar.se/foremal/maria-the-return/?lang=en
Uppsala Botanical Garden and Uppsala Linneanum
Carl Linneaus, who is known as the father of modern taxonomy, was a Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician. His work helped in formalizing the binomial nomenclature of naming organisms which we still use. Uppsala University formed a huge part of his early studies and life as a botanist, eventually becoming the Professor at the University and then Rector. Hence, Uppsala Botanical Garden and Uppsala Linneanum forms an important part of the city. It was fun to explore the gardens and walk across the Orangeriet and Barockträdgården.
Gustavianum – Uppsala museum
This museum is right in front of the Cathedral and was one of the best experiences during our visit to Uppsala. If you have anything to do with academics, research and / or science then this museum is a must visit. Even though it is currently used as a museum, it is the oldest standing building of Uppsala university built in 1600s. It was considered as the main building for the University for approximately 100 years from 1700s to 1800s. What fascinated us was the amazing collection that is stuated in the museum. Try to reach the museum when they have guided tours, it will just enrich your experience. Museum houses the Ausburg Art cabinet – cabinet of curiosities, many instruments used in earlier research of any field of science and my most favorite anatomical theater. I had never seen such a thing before and listening how it was used in past is fascinating.
Before we talk about the anatomical theater, I would also like to mention that museum showcases relics from Egypt, items found from archaeological sites and things from Viking era. What also amazed me was looking at the Celsius thermometer and seeing his work. Dr. Anders Celsius was a very much a part of Uppsala University, Infact he was born in Uppsala too. He did not invent the thermometer but created the precision in them and also the scale which we still use.
Moving on to the anatomical theater of Uppsala University. Its the second most well preserved anatomical theater in the world. This anatomical theater was founded by Olof Rudbeck who was the pioneer in the study of Lymphatic vessels. He had established the first botanical garden mentioned above but the garden was renamed to Carl Linnaeus eventually.
Anatomical theatre are used for dissection of bodies to study human body and teach them to medical students. Back in the day, this used to be done publicly in such a theatre and people could pay to secure a seat and watch the ‘show’. It was performed on dead prisoners as well as animals. Eventually these practices stopped but the theater still exists.
Uppsala University Library
Carolina Rediviva is the main building of Uppsala University Library. As any other library it houses a large collection of books, manuscripts, magazines, maps, pictures, music scores and manuals. It is divided into subject libraries and reading halls. Also it displays few permanent and free exhibitions displaying some of the very rare items. One such item in display is the Silver bible which is a sixth century manuscript of the original 4 th century translation of Bible into Gothic language.
Uppsala Castle and Gunillaklockan
Uppsala Castle had a major rule in Swedish history when Sweden was ready to become the super power in Europe. It was heavily damaged during the fires of 1702. Though we did not go inside the castle the views from top of the hill are amazing, especially if the Orangeriet and the Cathedral. Infact the canons outside the castle are pointing towards the cathedral, some say, signifying that the Royals control the Church and not vice versa. Gunillaklockan on the other hand after the fires of 1702 were used to remind people of the day had started or ended. I will recommend this place only if you have extra time on your hands.
Do visit Uppsala on Walpurgis eve, as this student city gets super active on that day. There are river floating competition, donning of the caps in front of Carolina Rediviva Library and singing at Gunillaklockan.
Hope this was an interesting guide for you and you would wish to visit these places when you visit Uppsala next.